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Land bank may look to unload several parcels

A NEW LEASE ON LIFE? — Best known for demolishing uninhabitable properties, Jefferson County Land Bank is looking into the feasibility of finding buyers willing and able to rehab several properties in Steubenville, such as this one on North Fifth Street. -- Linda Harris

STEUBENVILLE — The Jefferson County Land Bank is exploring the feasibility of making three of its properties available at reduced cost to buyers who have the means to fix them up.

The land bank’s Tabitha Glover said it’s not the first time they’ve made properties available to qualified buyers for restoration, pointing out that one of the agency’s goals is, when and where it makes sense, to save rather than raze. The Steubenville properties currently under consideration are on Pine, Rosswell and North Fifth streets.

“We’re looking at doing that with them, but we haven’t made a full determination yet,” Glover said. “We have to get them inspected to determine if they’re viable to rehab. That will probably take a month or two. But from the outside, they look like there is potential to rehab them.”

As part of the inspection, Glover said professionals will determine how much it would cost to rehabilitate each of the properties if a contractor would do the work, then get a market analysis of the house done with the repairs factored in. That information would then be used to determine the reclaimed value of the property, which would ensure a purchase price for the property that would be fair to the land bank as well as the buyer.

“A lot of times people do (the work) themselves, that’s where the cost savings is,” she said, adding buyers “pay a reduced price, it’s not free.”

Glover said the land bank has found buyers for several of its properties already, “these are just new ones we just acquired but haven’t been inside yet to further investigate to see if they’re rehab worthy. We believe they will be, but until we get the inspection report (we can’t be sure).”

And until that report is in, “We’re not in a position to state a price or sign an agreement with anyone. We’re still in the first stage of rehab, we’re trying to see if these are some we can rehabilitate. Keeping them habitable, that’s preferable for everybody.”

Glover figures next year there will be more of a focus on rehabbing properties than in the past.

“The funding we’re using now for demolition runs out at the end of the year. We haven’t heard yet if there will be (more),” she added.

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